One of the things to watch in 2021 will be to see how the White Sox pitching prospects continue to develop. The White Sox advanced to the playoffs in 2020 and added veteran Lance Lynn to their rotation for 2021. Fans may see that and be tempted to think that all is well with the Sox’s pitching staff. The truth is, they will need some help from their younger pitchers if they are to succeed in being serious contenders. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the White Sox pitching prospects.
White Sox Pitching Prospects: Michael Kopech
Of all the White Sox pitching prospects, there is perhaps none more perplexing or enigmatic than Michael Kopech. Kopech was acquired in the Chris Sale trade after the 2016 season in a deal that marked the beginning of the Sox’s rebuild. He came as a highly touted prospect who could throw 100 miles per hour almost at will. Fans’ expectations for Kopech were high and with good reason.
Kopech’s career has been a major disappointment so far for White Sox fans. While he progressed well through minor league ball, his Major League career has been less than spectacular. He made his MLB debut in August of 2018 and threw the ball well for two innings. A rain delay limited him to just those two innings, but he made a good impression. He went on to make three more starts before experiencing some soreness in his arm. In September of 2018. Kopech underwent Tommy John surgery and would miss all of the 2019 season.
As the shortened 2020 season approached, Kopech announced that he would be sitting out for the season. This announcement disappointed many White Sox fans who had high hopes for the young righthander. It also increased the growing pessimism held by some Sox fans. It is this pessimism that Kopech will have to overcome if he is to become the pitcher many think he can be. New Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz has expressed confidence that Kopech will be ready to go when the Opening Day bell rings. If Katz is right, the White Sox will be a serious threat in 2021.
White Sox Pitching Prospects: Dylan Cease
The next of the White Sox pitching prospects who are critical to their 2021 hopes is Dylan Cease. The Sox acquired Cease from their crosstown rivals, the Cubs, along with Eloy Jimenez in the middle of the 2017 season. He is another hard-throwing righthander who arrived with high expectations. While not as highly-touted as Kopech, Cease still is considered as a potential second or third starter, if he maximizes his potential.
Cease made his MLB debut in July of 2019, and his first start was a bit of an omen for his career thus far. Cease pitched five innings, allowing three runs on four hits. He struck out six but also walked four. He walked three batters in the first inning, and two of them scored. It would be grossly unfair to evaluate any pitcher on his MLB debut, however, Dylan Cease‘s first inning has been a scene that has played out far too often in his young career.
The performance of Dylan Cease has been consistently inconsistent, at best. He struggles with his control more often than not and can drive Sox fans crazy. At times, he is unwatchable. The good news is that Katz is rather optimistic about Cease’s ability to help the Sox in 2021. There is no doubt that Cease has the physical ability to do big things for the Sox. If he can improve on his control, and not overthink his pitches, Cease has an excellent chance to help the Sox in 2021.
White Sox Pitching Prospects: Garrett Crochet
The final of the White Sox pitching prospects profiled here is a bit of a dark horse. After all, he was just drafted in June of 2020, after pitching only 3.1 innings in the spring at Tennessee. He finished his collegiate career with an ERA of 4.64. His stats don’t exactly jump off the page and scream out first-round draft pick. The one thing he did have in his favor was a fastball that topped 100 miles per hour. The White Sox saw something in Crochet and took him with the 11th overall pick.
With no minor league season, Crochet was relegated to the White Sox alternative complex for extended spring training. The odds of him appearing in the Major Leagues seemed rather long. However, on September 19th, in the heat of a division race, Crochet got the call out of the bullpen. He promptly threw several pitches at 100 miles per hour or greater and pitched a perfect inning. The White Sox and the entire baseball community saw something special.
Crochet appeared in the first inning of game three of the playoffs against the Oakland A’s. After recording the third out, he went out for the second inning and experienced soreness. He was removed from the game as White Sox Nation groaned, however, he is healthy now and appears ready for spring training and the 2021 season. There are two questions Sox fans have about Crochet. The first is whether he will return to the minors or start the season with the Major League team. The second is how will he be used – as a starter or as a reliever? Either way, Katz has big plans for his prize lefthander for the 2021 season.
White Sox Pitching Prospects: Final Word
While the White Sox figure to be solid contenders in 2021, a lot may well depend on the young White Sox pitching prospects. Yes, they have three solid starters in Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, and Lance Lynn. They expect to carry a good deal of the load. However, whether the Sox achieve their goal of winning big in 2021 will very likely depend on the progress of the White Sox pitching prospects. Here’s hoping that they are up to the task.
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